Anti-government protests in Bulgaria reached their 60th day on August 12, facing the irony that the “Oresharski March” from Sofia to seaside might reach its destination just as MPs are recalled to the capital city to respond to President Rossen Plevneliev’s veto of the government’s Budget amendments earlier approved by Parliament.
This past weekend, along with the customary evening protests in Sofia against the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, an anti-government protest was held in the south-western Bulgarian town of Blagoevgrad where, apart from the resignation of the government, participants also demanded the departure of the regional governor, Musa Palev.
The “Oresharski March”, made up of a group of volunteers from the anti-government protesters who embarked more than a week ago on a march from Sofia to the Black Sea coast, reached Karnobat. The march is named for Plamen Oresharski, appointed in May to sit in the prime minister’s chair in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government formed after the second-ranked party was handed a mandate to govern after the largest party, GERB, was unable to do so.
The Euxinograd residence near Varna has been a focus of anti-government protests, with events there beginning last week with a plan to “occupy” the state holiday residence and, reportedly, with plans being for the Oresharski March to reach the residence by August 15.
However, Friday August 15 is also being reported as the date that Parliament will sit to respond to Plevneliev’s veto of the Budget amendments approved by Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms MPs just before Parliament’s summer recess.
The socialist Speaker of Parliament, Mihail Mikov, has indicated that the National Assembly will interrupt its recess to sit either on Wednesday or Friday.
Mikov said on August 11 that he expected that Parliament would vote down Plevneliev’s veto.
On August 7, the head of state rejected key provisions of the Budget revision – the reduced revenue target, increased spending and the increased borrowing ceiling for this year
“We wish to know more about all the spending and we wish to know more about the new debt envisioned in the bill and, of course, how this public resource will be managed for the rest of the year. At the same time, I do not see in the bill passed by the National Assembly a serious claim to pursue reforms to support employment, competitiveness and economic growth,” Plevneliev said at the time.
With regard to the spending side of the Budget, he said that it lacked any transparency or arguments for the revision.
Concerning the revenue side of the revision, Plevneliev said that it was “premature and lacking ambition” to reduce the revenue targets for the year, which was also at odds with the ruling coalition’s stated intention to fight contraband and raise revenue collection.
Concerning the provision to increase the annual borrowing ceiling by one billion leva, Plevneliev said that he did not oppose it in principle, but objected to how the money would be spent.
Mikov said he expected that the President’s veto would be rejected, because in his view this was “a veto which aimed at destabilising the current cabinet and the government of the country”.